The YMCA, Ensuring a Brighter Future

Connie Hether

Motivates others to overcome fears about working out

If there’s any person who can help Y members feel comfortable about working out, it’s Connie. She’s been making Y members and visitors feel at home in the Wellness Center for 20-plus years. Y staff and many friends would agree that Connie expresses a natural ability to enable people of all ages and abilities grow more confident about exercising. “I understand that La Crosse is a smaller city, and it can be harder to get connected with other people,” Connie says. “But I believe everyone has the right to feel good and to not feel intimidated about going to the Y.”

 

At age 60, Connie has learned first-hand that once you break through barriers of fear, such as going to the Y or establishing a regular routine at the Y, then it becomes easier each time you walk through the doors. “People will find such a diversity of people here. It’s amazing,” Connie says. “But there’s a common thread that runs through everyone. They want to do something good for themselves. They want to keep healthy and to stay active. The Y is doing so much more for people than it may even realize.”

 

When members spend time at the Y and then go out into the world, Connie says, their limited perceptions about people likely may have broadened. Y members change on the outside and the inside when they see and meet people from all walks of life, from high school to college students, to single parents and seniors, working out together. “You can learn to relate more to people and to understand yourself better too,” Connie says. “You can work past your fears and change your perceptions. These are only thoughts, and these can be changed.”

 

Connie practices what she believes. She enjoys group cycling, Zumba, weight lifting, and walking. “I’ve become aware that as you age, your body changes, and you have to know when to change with it,” says Connie, who needed to give up running. “There’s a delicate balance between pushing yourself and being gentle with yourself.”

Connie has made many wonderful connections through the Y. She and her friends get together regularly for lunch and take trips. She has especially enjoyed talking with the older members that frequent the Wellness Center. “Their life stories are amazing, and I would never know unless I asked them,” Connie says. “I feel like it’s such an honor to get to know them.”

 

At the Wellness Center, Connie and staff are responsible for giving orientations on the equipment, assisting members, cleaning, and particularly keeping members safe. The Wellness Center, filled with aerobic and weight equipment, is a very place busy in the Y. Staff work well together to keep everything running smoothly. Connie enjoys the work and the staff. She even has a nickname, “Cupcake,” and she gives other staff nicknames too. “We like each other, and we respect each other,” Connie says. “The work we do here at the Y is sometimes harder than it looks.”

 

Connie’s work in the Wellness Center has changed throughout the years. She started working when she was she was a single parent, and now she’s a grandparent to three. Yet she remains a stable presence at the Y. “Turning 60 was a big decade for me. Every decade goes by so fast,” she says. “That’s why we need to live in the moment. The past is done. There’s nothing I can do about tomorrow. Live in the moment and enjoy it.” – By Kim Seidel, Seidel Ink LLC